Let’s face it, buying a swimsuit can be challenging, especially when doing so online. At the same time, there are seemingly endless options such as a bikini, standard one-piece, the ever-so-sexy monokini, and the tankini.
“From a practical point of view, tankinis are great for long days at the beach or pool where you know you’ll need to use the restroom a few times,” says fashion expert Maggie Gillette. “They bridge the gap between a one-piece and a traditional bikini, allowing those who are shy about showing their midsection a little [modesty].” Comparatively, a monokini was once a topless swimsuit with a high-waisted bottom with two thin straps. However, it has evolved into a one-piece bathing suit with large cutouts on the side.
Furthermore, you may want to consider cost, material, and fit. “Measure as you would for your bra size and panties,” says Andréa Bernholtz, founder of SWIMINISTA. “It’s important to hit all the goal marks in swimwear,” she explains. And then, of course, you may want a brand that is considerate of the environment and/or size-inclusive. “We’re seeing a lot of brands focusing on sustainability in swimwear. This often looks like using recycled materials in production since most swimsuits are made from synthetic materials,” she says.
To help guide your search, we roundup up the best swimsuit brands according to our research and conversations with experts.
Fashion and function are what Summersalt promises its customers. The brand has a fit chart using 1.5 million body measurements from 10,000 women to inform the sizes. The brand also uses recycled materials to create fabrics and product packaging. The Sidestroke, one of their best-selling swimsuits, offers compression.
Girlfriend Collective was built on transparency. Careful of the processes, including the raw materials facilities with which the brand is partnered. Sustainability is prioritized as the brand’s packaging is 100 percent recycled and recyclable, with swimsuits made from recycled fishnets. The brand says that its textiles have been produced using recycled materials in their facility in Taiwan, specializing in eco-friendly and high-quality materials. The factory is SA8000-certified, which should guarantee fair wages, safe and healthy working conditions, and no forced or child labor.
Former president and co-founder of the much-loved brand Rock & Republic Andréa Bernholtz has moved on from the world of denim and decided to launch the ultra-comfortable swimwear company SWIMINISTA. The pieces are created using nylon that has been made with post-consumer plastics and can generally be mixed and matched (the two-pieces, that is). “We have a new swim and resort wear collection, in collaborative partnership with the House of Christian Lacroix,” says Bernholtz. “Featuring thirteen new pieces with a fresh infusion of colors and iconic prints with the same fully adjustable, personalized fits in sizes A-DD that offer ultra-flattering support for every unique silhouette [as the rest of brand offerings],” she says.
Classic high-waist bikini bottoms, reversible fabrics, prints that look like art, and uniquely structured pieces that evoke femininity can be found in the swimsuit from Johanna Ortiz. The brand which bears her name is steeped in the heritage of her Colombian hometown and crafted in California.
In some instances, clothing that you purchase has been made using a standard size model, but in the case of Andie, over 300,000 women have helped in the line’s design. The brand offers one and two pieces and hard-to-find versions for long torsos.
This Brazilian brand screams South American vacation. Its founder Patricia Bonaldi launched the brand after opening a store that featured multiple brands and getting requests to create a collection. Her apparel features bold prints and detailed embroidery. Plus, the school that Bonaldi established has taught over 200 local people technical skills, saving the company from having to outsource the designs of PatBO.
Founded by Belinda Lee and Ng Su May, Pink Salt would be best described as a classically designed trending swimwear label. In contrast, that may seem like a difficult feat; the brand thrives on the twosome’s strengths. Lee is trained in graphic design, which can be seen in the silhouettes and prints, while Su May focuses on the technical aspects of the label. The depth and richness of the colors and prints make the items irresistible.
As a mom, Gemma Crowe understands the importance of having swimwear for you pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and then postpartum. She created Infamous Swim, a line that speaks to that journey. The pieces are designed for you to love your figure and feel comfortable. In some cases, you can pick your size if you have a longer torso and size down if you have a shorter torso. Also, there are mini versions available in certain iterations if you feel like matching up with your kid.
Sometimes wanting affordable swimwear can come at a cost to style, but Mango gives you both. The pieces are sleek and great for creating memories with college friends or reliving them as you watch your kids play in the sand.
Oceanus Swimwear is a good option if you love glitter and sophistication. Each piece is made with Swarovski crystals and recycled materials. Designer Hannah Attalah found the perfect blend of glam and swimwear using fabrics that minimize waste (the Lycra used is made from recycled fishing nets). The embroidery beading is decomposable, and none of the materials used are derived from any animals.
Lululemon is well known and loved for its versatile and super soft workout gear, and the swimsuits encompass much of that. The pieces are sleek, with minimal design and classic shapes.
At the forefront of Everlane’s foundation is an ethical approach to finding factories and developing relationships with the owners. The brand’s site states that each factory is given a compliance audit to check things like fair wages, reasonable hours, and environmental impact. Additionally, each piece is made from Econyl fabric (which is meant to last), and each item is tested on 112 women to ensure fit.
Sustainability can take many forms, and in the case of Wolven, it means creating multifunctional and sustainable items. Flip them inside out when you want a new look, and wash them less because they are made with antimicrobial materials increasing the clothing lifecycle and reducing water use, waste, and pollution. Plus, it is an excellent way to keep a couple of extra bucks in your pocket as you may buy less clothing.
UBU was founded on the principle that we all should be comfortable with who we are. The bathing suits are made to be comfortable and flattering, featuring styles that can minimize, highlight and emphasize where you feel best. The brand’s swimwear is versatile and can be paired with jeans, maxi skirts, or even under a cardigan or blazer.
Andrea Iyamah was launched in 2011 by Nigerian fashion designer Andrea Dumebi Iyamah. Travel and elements of nature inspire the fashion line. The swimsuits are feminine with classic cuts with enough edge that the wearer can embrace their uniqueness.
We are not going to lie; this brand is all about the teeny weeny string bikini. However, Sommer Swim’s website states that they also foster relationships with the artisans who make their apparel, pay the employees above minimum wage and other benefits and follow the internationally recognized standards of the Ethical Trading Initiative. The swimwear is made in Bali, Indonesia, at a family-owned and operated factory exclusive to the brand.
MBM Swim was founded by self-taught designer Marcia Maxwell in 2017 and built on her love of clean lines and swimwear. The pieces are old Hollywood glam with a mix of elegant and sexy. They can be worn to the beach alone, as a bodysuit with jeans or a maxi skirt, or underneath a blazer.
At this point, most have heard that using sunscreen is one of the easiest ways to reduce the chances of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. And luckily, there are brands like Coolibar that also add sun protection to their swimwear and other products in the brand’s line. So while you may have to reapply sunscreen to exposed areas throughout the day, at least you have UPF 50+ protection on the part covered by Coolibar’s rash tops, swim shorts, swim capris, tights, and skorts.
Betsy Johnson, the founder of Swimzip, was diagnosed with skin cancer at 26 propelling her to switch from a corporate career to something that better resonated with her. And thus, Swimzip UPF 50 clothing was formed. The brand boasts that the products are sun-safe, stylish, functional, and affordable.
Former fashion industry insider Mika Oakes started MOLOCO after having a hard time finding chic and functional swimsuits during her first pregnancy and postpartum journey. She created the line with a desire to make people feel beautiful and supported as they take care of their kids and themselves. The suits are versatile and adapt to the changes in your body.
UV Skinz founder Rhonda R. Sparks’ 32-year-old husband, Darren, lost his battle with skin cancer, leaving her with their three boys. That made her want to help educate families on living sun-safe lives. She launched the brand with UPF 50+ sun-protective apparel.
Based on the personal desire of María Luisa Mendiolas to find a sense of belonging after being self-conscious about the disfigurement of her feet, the CEO and founder launched MIGA Swimwear. Made with its mission in mind to help every person feel confident, the swim outfits are created with sun protection and designed with bright colors and cut-outs.
Adaptations By Adrian
Formerly known as Adrian's Closet, Adaptations By Adrian customizes adaptive clothing and swimsuits for people with special needs. The designs consider circulation issues, individuals who are always seated and how that can create pressure problems, and someone's sensitivity to seams.
RIMMBA is a sustainable clothing line founded by Karunia Fischer, who was born, raised, and educated in Bali and started designing her clothes in middle school. However, she moved her studies to Rhode Island School of Design, then Europe, where she worked with a company to launch a swimwear line, eventually leaving to create this brand of sustainable clothing, which includes swimwear.
As a result of her brother’s transition, Danaë Kurver launched Trans-Missie. The brand creates shapewear, underwear, and swimwear for people who may or may not want to transition. The collection is for transgender people and men with gynecomastia.
Miraclesuit promises to deliver three times the control of ordinary swimwear fabrics. There are no inner linings or tightening control panels to create a form-fitting finish. The brand also uses shirring, graphic designs, and draping to accentuate your curves and pull attention from areas you would like to de-emphasize (if you're looking for that).
Akoia crochet suits offer a twist on the typical swimsuits. The fabric features stretch for comfort while the designs lean into a Brazilian cut for a sultry look. The pieces are handmade by artisan women in Bali.
Abercrombie & Fitch
The looks from Abercrombie & Fitch swimsuit collection are all about typical all-American fashion. The designs are classics that won’t go out of style and complement different body types, with tall and curve options available.
Adore Me checks a lot of boxes. The brand claims it audits its factories, offers eco-friendly packaging, and provides low-carbon transport. Plus, the swimsuits are pretty darn cute as well.
Verdelimon is produced in southern Colombia by local artisans and craftspeople giving back to the local community. Not only are they made with responsibly sourced fabrics, but the patterns also feature the beach, forest, and fauna that are indigenous to that area.
In addition to typical bathing suits, J.Crew also offers the hard-to-find long torso style. The brand has also introduced its first 100 percent sustainable swim collection made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles, yarns, and fabric scraps.
If you haven’t heard of Bromelia Swimwear, allow us to introduce you woman-owned company crafting high-quality swimwear you’ll reach for every season. The brand has a versatile lookbook containing everything from full-coverage one-piece bathing suits to animal-printed string bikinis, with a few wild cards intermixed, like a corset-style bodysuit. One of the best parts of this brand? It says it manufactures all of the garments locally in California using sustainable practices and fair wages, so you can feel good while you soak up the sun.
Whether you’re taking a trip to a coastal island or just want to look like you are, Vix Swimwear has an array of sexy styles that take inspiration from the beaches of Brazil and California. Spice up your next vacation with its designs that feature skin-baring silhouettes, funky side cutouts, and alluring low backs. Each one of the well-constructed pieces also displays a signature head-turning detail that brands the style to the brand, such as a jewel-toned embellishment or chain-link accessory.
Lulus might be our go-to when we want to be the best-dressed wedding guest or for seasonal outfit essentials, but it also has an extensive swimwear line full of popular styles. You can pretty much find any type of swimsuit you want: Filter through the sparkly one-shoulder bikini tops, vibrant abstract prints, and trendy two-pieces. As a bonus, most of the swimwear is under $50, providing the perfect opportunity to take the plunge and purchase a more whimsical option.
Meet the Expert
- Maggie Gillette is a fashion and lifestyle writer and expert, designer of The Giving Bride and co-founder of The Lingerie Selection.
- Andréa Bernholtz is the founder, CEO, and creative director of SWIMINISTA.
What to Look for When Buying Swimsuits
Swimwear is often made of a mix of nylon and lycra or elastane. It needs to have enough stretch and also be able to bounce back. Look for high-quality fabric made from post-consumer plastics to create supportive pieces made for movement. You should also make sure that the swimsuit is lined to ensure that it doesn't reveal more than you want, especially when it gets wet. When you try on a swimsuit, don't just consider how it looks-think about how it feels. Move around, and make sure nothing is itchy, rubbing, or digging into your skin.
The best way to determine your fit in swimwear is by referencing your bust, waist, and hip measurements with each of the brand’s specific size charts. If you don’t have these numbers on hand, an easy trick is to match your bra and underwear size for a two-piece bathing suit, and your dress size with a one-piece.
Reading reviews and the product description can also guide you toward how the swimsuit will fit: They give insight into whether you need to size up or down, if the fabric stretches, and whether there are adjustable components that will impact how it looks on your body such as straps and side ties.
Keeping return policies in mind, shopping around, and trying different silhouettes and cuts at home in normal lighting (think: not the deceiving fluorescent lights of a dressing room) will help you find the right style for you.
Want to look sexy but still have full coverage? Opt for a monokini that connects the top and bottom of your swimsuit, while leaving the midsection bare. A tankini is another great choice here and is ideal for those with long torsos who want more coverage. Versatility is also key: A classic solid-colored one-piece is not only a timeless option that’s flattering on a range of body types, but it doubles as a bodysuit when you layer it under jeans and skirts.
In terms of support, those with larger busts may opt for a scoop neckline, thicker adjustable straps, or underwire. Smaller chest sizes looking to boost their bustline will have luck seeking out swimwear with padded tops or designs with ruffles around the chest. However, swimwear has no rules, and it’s ultimately up to what you feel best wearing.
How do you know what size swimsuit to buy?
Keep in mind swimsuits usually use three measurements: bust, waist, and hips. Generally, you measure at the fullest part for the bust and hips, while the waist measurement is at the smallest part of your torso. Sometimes, you may need a different size on the bottom than on the top. Some two-piece suits will allow you to mix and match sizes which is a great solution. If you can't do that, or if you're looking for a one-piece, it's usually best to wear the size of the larger measurement.
What is the most comfortable swimsuit fabric?
Polyester, whether used alone or with a blend of elastane and nylon, is a common swimsuit material because it feels good against your skin, stretches without losing its elasticity, and is pretty durable. For more control and security, you may also consider looking for swimsuits with supportive features like underwire or shapewear (achieved with a high elastane content). Ultimately, most swimwear fabric can be comfortable and long-lasting if it's well-constructed, so investing in a higher-quality fabric may pay off in the long run.
Why Trust Byrdie
Irene Richardson writes on fashion and beauty for InStyle, Brides, and Travel + Leisure.
Cheryl S. Grant is a writer, editor, and nutritionist who has worked with brands such as Reader's Digest, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, SheKnows, Brides, Taste of Home, and more. She covers everything from nutrition, health, and beauty to travel, food, entertainment, politics, and fashion.